The human capacity to care for others isn’t something trivial or something to be taken for granted. Rather, it is something we should cherish. Compassion is a marvel of human nature, a precious inner resource, and the foundation of our well-being and the harmony of our societies. If we seek happiness for ourselves, we should practice compassion: and if we seek happiness for others, we should also practice compassion.
The quality of everything we do: our physical actions, our verbal actions, and even our mental actions, depends on our motivation. That’s why it’s important for us to examine our motivation in our day to day life. If we cultivate respect for others and our motivation is sincere, if we develop a genuine concern for others’ well-being, then all our actions will be positive.
In today’s materialistic world there is a risk of people becoming slaves to money, as though they were simply cogs in a huge money-making machine. This does nothing for human dignity, freedom, and genuine well-being. Wealth should serve humanity, and not the other way around.
The practice of patience guards us against losing our presence of mind. It enables us to remain undisturbed, even when the situation is really difficult. It gives us a certain amount of inner peace, which allows us some self-control, so that we can choose to respond to situations in an appropriate and compassionate manner, rather than being driven by our disturbing emotions.
If each of us can learn to relate to each other more out of compassion, with a sense of connection to each other and a deep recognition of our common humanity, and more important, to teach this to our children, I believe that this can go a long way in reducing many of the conflicts and problems that we see today.
Disturbing emotions not only disturb our own state of mind, they also disturb the minds of others. Self-centredness gives rise to fear and insecurity, which in turn creates distrust. This is why having an altruistic attitude brings a great sense of happiness and peace of mind.
Peace has a great deal to do with warm-heartedness and respect for the lives of others, avoiding doing them harm and regarding their lives as being as precious as our own. If, on that basis, we can also be of help to others, so much the better.
Although violence and the use of force may appear powerful and decisive, their benefits are short-lived. Violence can never bring a lasting and long term resolution to any problem, because it is unpredictable and for every problem it seems to solve, others are created. On the other hand, truth remains constant and will ultimately prevail.
Giving material goods is one form of generosity, but one can extend an attitude of generosity into all one’s behavior. Being kind, attentive, and honest in dealing with others, offering praise where it is due, giving comfort and advice where they are needed, and simply sharing one’s time with someone – all these are forms of generosity, and they do not require any particular level of material wealth.
When we are angry we are blind to reality. Anger may bring us a temporary burst of energy, but that energy is blind and it blocks the part of our brain that distinguishes right from wrong. To deal with our problems, we need to be practical and realistic. If we are to be realistic, we need to use our human intelligence properly, which means we need a calm mind.
There is a saying in Tibetan that “at the door of the miserable rich man sleeps the contented beggar.” The point of this saying is not that poverty is a virtue, but that happiness does not come from wealth, but from setting limits to one’s desires, and living within those limits with satisfaction.